Friday, July 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Luke Chapter 1 revisited
Reading through Luke chp. 1 for a second time in recent days, I noticed a couple of things that I didn't know the first time through. This often happens and this isn't the main thrust of this entry but I think that it is valuable to note.
One of the chief things that I noticed is the tone of Luke's writing, possibly it has something to do with the translation or maybe the English syntax makes everything seem similar, but I noticed and thought that this first entry in Luke's Gospel sounded a lot like some of the earlier books of the OT that I am most familiar with. I have been reading through the OT in the Message version of the Bible, and am currently stalled in early 1 Samuel. The part where Elizabeth mentions the baby jumping in her womb sounded really familiar and it seemed like something that could have happened in the OT. If you knew nothing about the Biblical writers, one would easily assume that one person wrote the whole thing, or it was all written in cohoots with each other so tonal similarities seems reasonable. But as I understand the process of the Bible coming together, it happened over thousands of years through many different authors in completely different contexts writing to completely different audiences. That Luke initially sounds like the OT and I would feel ridiculous if I did not do my studying and this incident actually happens in the OT, but the way it is worded the way it is mentioned twice, it rings of Biblical revelation.
The other thing that struck me was that Zechariah and Elizabeth were considered righteous according to the Law and blameless. The verses here go into great length to show how righteous this couple was, and I couldn't understand why. I assume some of the most obvious reasons are probably the right one. In order for Zechariah to enter the temple and not to end up dead in God's presence in the holiest of holies was probably important for the rest of the story, but why were we suppose to know this. The first thing that I think is that we understand that in our covenant relationship with God, there is no way for us to be blameless before him. We are born into sin, and in sin we will die returning to dust, which I assume is no different for Jews of this time, Jesus time, or Biblical antiquity, but what is different is the process that Jews went through to become clean. There was a time, and it could happen daily or monthly, however often you sacrificed at the temple, on Yom Kippur that you could truly be considered blameless. When Jesus comes and says if you look at a woman lustfully you sin in your heart, we are all done (speaking for men everywhere), and thus we can never be considered blameless. I wonder what that means for us practically as Christians, shouldn't that be a predisposition toward humility, that we are so aware of how short we fall of the command, 'Be holy as your Father in heaven is holy'.
This is obviously not the case.
So I wonder what we can take from understanding Zecharias as being blameless...I am not and i I don't know anyone who is. Christians are often accused of thinking that they are blameless. Ok let me back up. We who have the hardest standard to live by on earth are considered uptight and hypocritical. The only way we can ever be considered holy is because of an action we had no part in, and if we were considered to have a part in it we were the ones shouting 'Crucify him', ok - so we are the hypocritical ones, the judgemental ones, the biased - prejudice- intolerant ones...that can't be right...
Well, that's what the world thinks of us.
Thats what I think of myself. Everytime I drive past a stranded car. Every time I have an opportunity to tell someone my story and fudge it a little because I don't feel up for the debate. Every time I get impatient with my wife, my brother, my friend, and my neighbor. I am a hypocrite. To steal a line from Paul and to take it vastly out of context - a Pharisee of Pharisees. So no I am not blameless like Zechariah or Elizabeth for that matter, but I hope I never think I am either.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
This blog series, as you can see from the archives I am not very good at or consistent, is an attempt to keep a friendship alive that is floundering in an uncertain sea of turmoil and distance. So this blog series is to take a stand, fight the good fight worth fighting and make this friendship work. Drew Moody and I haven't been friends that long but his time with me has been invaluable, and his accountability in our spiritual walks is priceless to me. In order to see that sustained and our friendship and relationship with God grow, we plan on reading the Gospel of Luke separately, and blogging about our discoveries - reading each others discoveries and being emboldened to in our faiths by each others faiths and writings. Here is it goes. I don't know where this is going to end up but I know that Luke's Gospel is the first step in what could end up as anything. We will leave comments on each others pages, you are welcome to do so with us. We don't have a reading plan because reading plans are an avenue to some sort of failure of missed goals and frustration. We are going to read and post everyday that is the only plan. Other than that we are going to let God guide us...
Take #1 -
I will inevitably read more than the first 4 verses but they are the ones I personally want to comment on. I don't know what Drew is going to talk about, but I will talk about this lines for a moment. The Gospel of Luke, as I understand, is the only with a preface. Some books in the OT have a sort of intro - or at least introducing the author to you, just as Paul does in his Epistles. The interesting thing about Luke's preface is that it admits to several things that are already going on in First Century Palastine. Luke admits that there are several other narratives about the events that happened. Luke doesn't state that this is a biography of Jesus, but that this is a history of events. Jesus is just the main character. We understand in a very almost coded way that Luke is admitting that he followed the events for some time past, and his ambition is the give an orderly account from eyewitnesses of the events. Another interesting bit about this intro is that Luke's intention is that Theopholis might have certainty concerning the things he has already been taught. Luke wants to get into writing the stories that are obviously circulating, he wants to grant Theopholis certainty also about the things he has already been taught. That makes us understand that Theopholis might believe these things already. I think this is interesting given the speculative or explicit purposes of the other Gospels. We see that in Matthew's Gospel, he is speculated, but pretty clear purpose is that he wanted to translate the events surrounding Jesus to the Jews of the time - including the most OT references of the 4 Gospels and the most prophecies fulfilled and mentioned, so that Jews would have a clear witness to the murky events surrounding Jesus. Mark's, as I have been taught, was purposed to be written to the Romans and has several devices in his language that make his portrayal of Jesus more apparent to a Roman audience. John expressly mentions that he has written 'these things so that you may believe', which is at its inception different from Luke's Gospel.
John's is written so that people might believe
Luke's is written so that Theopholis might have certainty about the things that he has already been taught, big difference. Luke goes into the most detail of any of the Gospels. Luke gives us the most of Jesus' teachings than any gospel. Luke gives us the most parables.
What does this mean to us today? As I see it, and I wanted to mark that phrase, there are a lot of things that people have been taught today. There are a lot of 'facts' that circulate about Jesus today and there are a lot of opinions that circulate, speculations, and interpretations that have little to do with Jesus and more to do with people criticizing and being criticized for being a follow of Jesus. There are a lot of misconceptions about the immaculate conception, I just wanted to sound like Rev. Al Sharpton, or GK Chesterton both champion-rhymers. So we need an orderly account that will be authoritative, sufficient, clear, and concise. We need an account that people can quote and believe in. We need a text that people can turn to in time of trouble and despair and feel like they are connecting to something that is bigger than them. No ordinary book will do. No cliffnotes, abbreviated version, no interpretation of the events, just the words alone, and that is all that we need, the words themselves, and we will know the truth of the matter. Put all the speculations to bed. Did Jesus marry anyone? Did Jesus actually come back from the dead? Did Jesus actually not sin his whole life? I heard He killed a man, what about that? Well, read the book, and find out for yourself. Any translation will do. I am using the ESV because I have a slim edition of it that I can carry around. Just read the book, 24 of the smallest chapters you're ever going to find, in my edition 30 pages that will get the story straight once and for all.
In Luke's time they didn't have CNN or FOX news. So people had to tell you what happened if you were there, and then if you did see something important you had to go and tell everyone else because that is the only things go around. So gossip is kind of a big deal in this time because you could really start interpreting things for people pretty quickly. So if you had heard something about Jesus, that might be the only thing you find out forever about him until you saw something or heard or read something about him yourself. Isn't that the same way now, even though they can broadcast news, video/audio/text all over the world, most times people only here one-side of the story and thats all we need. Why did Al-Queda blow up the Trade Center - I still don't have a clear answer for that? The news just reports the WHO?WHAT?WHERE?WHEN?HOW? sometimes WHY? Luke gives us why - to have certainty. I hope it grants you that, certainty - who knows?
Friday, January 9, 2009
The system I cooked up with this push pins is really confusing, which I thought I saw with clarity while I was creating it. I wonder if something is in that statement or observation.
While we were reading I felt convicted that we should be getting to know more about God through this reading, but I felt so compelled, so self-forced to do it, that I felt like I might be sinning. I think apart of it was that in the run up to reading the Scriptures, I 'had' to get this post online to let others know. But I guess the issue could have been, for whom was I reading to not be lying to my web followers, or was it to glorify God by reading and listening to his word. Aaron continues to have doubts while he is reading which is strange. Just last night we read in Genesis that Hebrew circumcision ritual was to be performed on the eight day after birth, and Aaron was perplexed. He said to me that he had heard that it was seven days, then the most perplexing thing happened, I think he was doubting the Word of God in front of him, not the random stranger that told him differently. I wanted to launch into this entire 'sermon' on having a proper grid for authority, and while developing that the Word of God is placed at the highest point. I refrained, or was too lazy to pursue him, but I feel that is first time through Scripture, he is having a lot of doubts about it which are troubling him. This first time through, I wanted just to cover a lot of ground initially, a lot of questions about Scripture are answered within itself, so I felt like reading things straight through would give him a proper basis for even trying to investigate the claims.
Let me know what you think and be in prayer for this endeavor.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Yesterday, Aaron, Corey and I sat down and did our Bible reading. We got into an awesome conversation about the inerrancy of Scripture. We started to read Mark and several things got us asking about the differences in the translations we were reading out of.
Aaron is currently using the ESV version.
I use the NASB.
We loaned Corey a NLT.
Though the ESV and NASB are very similar, there are a few different situations of style situation, but where it differs, there were concerns amongst us. In the ESV, they very conservatively make any pronouncements texts that they are not sure of. There are several places where even insignificant words are set apart and let known that the translators aren't entirely sure what word is correct. Aaron pointed out a situation where there was a confusion over an [of] or an [and]. This level of present the evidence fairly and leave it up to the reader is a very encouraging level of commitment to the truth.
The Gospel of Mark was the first gospel Aaron and I read together, and going back through this time, and Aaron is much more attentive and teachable than the first circumstance. I praise God every single day for Aaron's change of heart and mystified by God's timing and majesty. Reading the Gospel of Mark, I think has a special place in Aaron's heart, which I am awe-struck by.
Psalm 4 rocks by the way. It is a wonderful representation of the Gospel, where early in the poem there is a call for repentance, and then the end is an awesome encouragement and healing passage.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
fter a small trial, not an all and out set back, but definitely through the Holy Spirit, and a God that brings His people through trials. Catching up on the reading schedule Genesis 4 - 12 Psalms 2 & 3 Matthew 10 - 28 Aaron and I sat down and caught up on our reading. We had an awesome time with Scripture and the Lord's presence. Genesis 4 - Cain's sin stains us all with pride and jealous. Genesis 5 - Watching God's plan to redeem mankind through His Son's death come through Adam's line. Genesis 6 - God watches as his creation is corrupted by man's sin and God's plan through grace to save everyone through one person, sound familiar. Genesis 7 - God's Word revealed to humanity through archaeology and strict obedience to God's provisions and plans. Genesis 8 - God delivers on his promise. Some thing that occurred to me during the reading of this chapter is what did Noah's wife think about this time, it has been 5 months since they have seen land, and she has to believe her husband that everything is going to return back to normal. I wander how many times his people asked him to send out the raven. Genesis 9 - God's first covenant with man is awesome. Genesis 10 - Again syncing this geneology with the one in Luke chp. 1 is amazing to see even through out the Old Testament lines of people that were cursed stayed pretty well cursed, and those that were blessed flourished at times. Genesis 11 - The story of the Tower of Babel is hilarious, read it for yourself and focus on the phrasing of certain things. Genesis 12 - Abram's obedience to a 'foreign god' truly shows God's power and majesty and specific plan for the redemption of humanity. A small but specific observation from the readings of the Psalms 2 & 3. Aaron was struck by God's wrathful axiom in Psalm 3:7 'I will shatter the teeth of the wicked.' Usually we read the Psalms reading before we read the OT reading, and obviously the NT reading is last. So, at least for this first time through the Psalm we are seeing a lot of correlation between our selected reading schedule. In this passage, we are introduced to God's wrath and David's call for God's wrath on his pursuant. We saw God's wrath poured out onto mankind in The Great Deluge, but also God's deliverance plan for all mankind represented in Jesus. Another small but specific observation from the reading in Matthew was the curses that were still in place that were ultimately and finally for all time lifted by Jesus, the one man savior for all time for all peoples everywhere who like Adam was created perfect and though unlike Adam kept sinless and overcame the enemy's temptations. The curse I am specifically thinking of was that of the Canaanite woman who approached Jesus in Mt 15:22-28. I had just reminded Aaron as we were reading through some of the 'dry' genealogies in Genesis to keep an eye out for some of these names that reoccur, and what their connotations. We see that this woman was so aware of her station as separate from Israel that she openly accepted the fact that jesus would consider her people dogs, and she was humble enough to pursue healing for her daughter in the face of degradations. Jesus was aware of the curses set forth from Ham all the way up to their present reality, and tested her pride. She could have been offended, and flailed back and jesus out of anger, but she humbled herself to these abuses, turning the other cheek practicing what Jesus set forth in the Sermon on the Mount. I love God's cleverness and plan worked out in Scripture.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Genesis 4 - 6/ Matthew 10 - 18
There is no Psalm today. Post your responses to the readings, or to my responses or whatever, this is totally free reign. If there are any tips on how to spread this blog let me know, I would love to get this reading schedule out to people. I liked the first day. It was challenging but beneficial definitely.
Completed Genesis 1 - 3/ Matthew 1 - 9/ Psalm 1
Aaron and I read Genesis 1-3 and Psalm 1 together earlier this evening, and I was reminded of God's awesome plan for creation. We learn a lot about the basic nature of sin in this interaction between God and man. Man sins due to countless motivations, but I think what God showed me in this situation was Adam's reaction to sin. He hid from God, which is comically ironic, but Adam was ashamed of his actions and hid. Adam, immediately after he ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, knew that what he had just done was wrong - obviously the fruit was labeled correctly and delivered the desired affect. I mean think about it. God designed this scenario. In God's justice, He created a decision for Adam to make. He placed the tree in the middle of the Garden, allowed the serpent to tempt Eve, and Eve pursuades her husband to eat. Everything in the situation pointed toward Adam's ownership of his actions. There was no way out.
I always come to this situation thinking, maybe I would have handled it differently, or maybe Adam wanted a do-over or something, but he couldn't God set it up to depend on this one decision. I mean think about it. Adam wasn't fooled, he could have rebuked Eve for sinning. Eve might have been tricked or fooled, but Adam could step back and take in the whole situation, and think critically about what had just happened in front of no less, examining the fact that in the NASB it says that Eve handed the fruit to her husband who was there with her. So, when we analyze the situation further we understand God's justice. Think of this, going ahead with the idea that God allowed all of this to happen, you might say - 'hey Adam didn't know what he was getting himself into' - well, as soon as he ate from the tree he did. The evidence for that is Adam's reaction, not about shame of nakedness, but of hiding from God. If Adam was all that confident about what he had just done, he wouldn't have hid it from God. He would have gotten up and said, 'this is awesome, I'm gonna go tell God about this awesome fruit He gave us.' Adam was afraid of God's reaction. Adam knew, at least now, what he did was wrong. God didn't punish anyone for doing something they didn't understand, God is just, and He punish everyone involved because they were all completely responsible for what they did. Adam sinned then he had a secret. He hid his secret, and had to sin some more to keep his secret.
How many times do we do something we are ashamed of then immediately try to hide the evidence, from whom? God sees everything. Why do we hide it? So we don't get caught, then someone yells at us. Well if we deserve to get yelled at for it, then we should take the yelling, but we don't because it hurts our pride. It takes humility and integrity to take the consequences of our actions. If we don't bow to the consequences of our actions it might be because we find ourselves as some exception to the rule, because we think we are so awesome that the rules should broken for us. Adam hid, and even if I might not have taken from the tree *that is a strong strong maybe* I most definitely would have hidden from God. I hide from God everyday, but everything that is done in secret will be revealed.
There were some awesome dialogue about Matthew 1 - 9. Corey, Aaron, and I stopped at chapter 9 because we had really had some great conversations about everything up to that point, that reading further wasn't going to get any better, possibly. One common theme that really came up in our dialogue was the reason for Jesus to give the Sermon on the Mount so soon, and why it is so long. One small reason I put forward for the Sermon on the Mount was because Jesus was looking forward to the Cross. Jesus references the Ten Commandments throughout the Sermon, what if Jesus was setting the stage for the importance of the Cross. The Ten Commandments were so important to these people at this time and space, that the Pharisees created the 612 laws to keep the Commandments holy. Jesus knows that people are trying to perfect themselves according to the Law, and like the rich man that came later says that he has kept the commandments. Jesus comes and is astounished by people actually trying to keep this laws and tally themselves up against them. Jesus comes and says that the Ten Commandments were given to you so that you may justify yourselves according to the law, but that the law would show you how sinful we are. What if that is what Jesus is doing here at the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is outlining the most difficult system of rules to follow in all of human history. Jesus knew were trying to conquer the Ten Commandments, so He came to give us a harder yoke, knowing that these commands would sure show people how poor we actually are, and how much we have to depend on God.
I didn't get done reading the Sermon on the Mount and say 'let's get to it,' I got done and said, 'I will never be able to any of this, especially all of it,' - 'i'm gonna need help,'
I hope anyone of this was helpful for anyone to read at all...let me know what you think..
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Reading for today -
Genesis 1 - 3/ Matthew 1 - 10/ Psalm 1
For anyone who can't do the math, there should be 365 of these, so if I miss one, let me have it, unleash blogger flaming like no body's business.
Anyways, I want to read the entire Bible, I mean the whole book in one year. I hear this is a common ambition. There are even Bible's in publication that specialize in these things, there are published tracks, there are devotional guides, if anyone knows me - I am too cheap or maybe too lazy to get something like that. So I devised my own plan, and I have a big ol' board to prove it.
Here is how it breaks down ok...
2.5 Chapters of the Old Testament a day (that is everyday for those who are keeping track at home)
10 Chapters of the New Testament a day
1 Psalm every other day
More Stats on the Bible
66 books in the whole Bible
-39 in the OT/27 in the NT
1189 Chapters in the whole Bible
-929 in the OT/260 in the NT
My math breaks down like this
929 (# of Chp. in OT) divided by 365 (# of days in year) = 2.5 - so by that calculation all that one has to do is read 2 to 3 chapters a day, very easy, to read the entire Old Testament (not our plan)
260 (# of chp. in NT) divided by 365 (# of days in year) = well it's not important, the discrepancy is glaringly obvious, you would be reading like a couple of verses a day to complete it in a year.
So I Decided to Mix it up a bit. My brother Aaron is a new believer and is fairly unchurched so to speak. Starting Bible in a Year with him and taking half to 2/3 of the year going through the Old Testament would be profitable, but I wanted to maximize profitability. So I decided to read the Old Testament and New Testament simultaneously, and through in a Psalm every so often.
So My plan is to
Read the Old Testament slowly ask questions, ask questions of you people here online, chew on these ancient text, and see what we can digest together.
Read the New Testament hyper fast. If my calculations are correct, we can read the NT - 12 times this year. At 10 chapters a day, it will be very easy to finish the NT in one month, instead of one year. So we can finish the New Testament in a month, have a break to finish up the book we need to in the Old Testament, and start fresh the first day of the new month.
Read a Psalm every other day - the reason being that I would like to through in some encouragement and pace changer every so often. There are 150 psalms that roughly breaks down to skipping a day we are done in early November with Psalms. Which is good because December is heavy on the chapters of OT.
By Month Books of the Old Testament
January - Genesis/Exodus
February - Exodus/Leviticus/Numbers
March - Numbers/Deuteronomy/Joshua
April - Joshua/Judges/Ruth/1st Samuel
May - 1st Samuel/2nd Samuel/1st Kings
June - 1st Kings/2nd Kings/1st Chronicles
July - 1st Chronicles/2nd Chronicles/Ezra
August - Ezra/Nehemiah/Esther/Job/Proverbs
September - Proverbs/Ecclesiastes/Song of Songs
October - Isaiah/Jeremiah
November - Jeremiah/Ezekial
December - The Rest of the Books - Minor Prophets
Break down of readings from the New Testament (rough outline for monthly process)
Day 1- Matthew Chp 1-10
Day 2- Matthew Chp 11-21
Day 3- Matthew Chp 21-28
Day 4- Mark Chp 1-10
Day 5- Mark Chp 11-16
Day 6- Luke Chp 1-12
Day 7- Luke Chp 13-24
Day 8- John Chp 1-10
Day 9- John Chp 11-21
Day 10- Acts Chp 1-10
Day 11- Acts Chp 11-20
Day 12- Acts Chp 21-28
Day 13- Romans Chp 1-8
Day 14- Romans Chp 9-16
Day 15- 1st Corinthians Chp 1-8
Day 16- 1st Corinthians Chp 9-16
Day 17- 2nd Corinthians Chp 1-12
Day 18- Galatians/Ephesians
Day 19- Philippians/Colossians
Day 20 - 1st & 2nd Thessalonians
Day 21 - 1st & 2nd Timothy/Titus/Philemon
Day 22 - Hebrews
Day 23 - James/1st & 2nd Peter
Day 24- 1st, 2nd, & 3rd John/Jude
Day 25- Revelations Chp 1-10
Day 26- Revelations Chp 11-22